Wednesday, January 22, 2014

James Bond Jr [1991]: Episodes 1-20

Without a doubt, one of the most curious curios in all of the James Bond canon is James Bond Jr, an animated cartoon television series aimed at children for one season during the early nineties.

My personal history with the series has been, until now, nonexistent.  I was beginning my senior year of high school when this series started airing, and had no interest in kiddie toons.  Even if I had possessed such an interest, I was only dimly aware of the existence of James Bond Jr.  I cannot even be certain that it aired in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

What I am certain of is that I spent years and years and years laboring under the illusion that the series was in no way connected to the James Bond movies or books.  I assumed that the title was permissible on the grounds of being a parody or something, and that the cartoon was, in essence, a ripoff that somebody had managed to slip through the cracks.  That is, those were my assumptions merely to whatever extent I gave the cartoon's existence any thought at all; but since that was nearly nil, I'm not sure you can even call them full-fledged assumptions.  Really, they are 2014-era assumptions of what my 1991-era assumptions would have been.

Truth be told, I essentially knew nothing of James Bond Jr.  For example, I certainly did not know that the show was -- as its Wikipedia article puts it -- produced "in association with" (and, therefore, sanctioned by) the various companies who held the rights to produce the Bond films, i.e., Danjaq and United Artists.  Or that it was seemingly based, at least in part, on 003½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior, a 1967 spinoff from Glidrose written by the pseudonymous "R.D. Mascott" (whose identity remains a mystery).  It featured a character named James Bond Junior who was the nephew of the real 007, but is otherwise unrelated to the cartoon.

I've done a small-ish amount of digging on the Internet for information about the specifics of the show's genesis.  Not enough so that I feel I've scoured the Internet, mind you; but enough so that I do feel secure in saying that information is, at best, hard to come by.  At worst, it is nonexistent, which has so far been my experience of it.

What I can tell you is this: the series seems perhaps to have been produced as a stopgap measure designed to bring in a modicum of money during the legal disputes that prevented a film from being produced between 1989's Licence to Kill and 1995's GoldenEye.  Michael G. Wilson may or may not have had an active hand in its creation (he IS credited as a developer); the show may or may not have been made merely to prevent Kevin McClory from producing his own animated Bond series; the show may or may not have been intended to prepare/indoctrinate a new generation of Bond fans for the eventual return of the series.  None of that is certain.

What we DO know is that information is hard to come by, as are episodes of the series.  (I found them all via either YouTube or, um, some other site whose name I cannot seem to remember; a handful are in German-dubbed form and therefore incomprehensible to my 'murican ears.)  The series has seemingly never been released on home video; a few episodes trickled out via VHS releases years ago, but are long out of print.  All signs point to the idea that the rights-holders are successfully attempting to suppress as much knowledge of the show as is humanly possible, and that makes it seem even more likely that everyone involved wishes it had never happened.

So . . . does that mean that the series was purely a cash-grab during lean times?  Or, instead, a preventative action taken against a potential competitor?  Both, even?  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

I'm positive that there is a behind-the-scenes story here, just waiting to be told.  I hope to hear it someday.  Until then, though, I can only speculate with a shrug.

I wrote all of the foregoing prior to launching into the actual watching of the series, which I am going to begin in a matter of minutes.  I do not know what awaits me.  I suspect the series sucks the high hard one; I suspect further that watching all 65 episodes is going to be brutal, agonizing, and odious.  But for blog and country, I am determined to watch every single one of them.  I am going to split the viewing up into four different posts: three covering the episodes themselves, and a final one wherein I foolishly attempt to apply to Double-0 Rating system to the series.

Pray for me as I begin this quest.


Well, THAT should give us all a pretty good indication of what we're in for.

Episode 1: "The Beginning"

airdate:  September 16, 1991
written by:  Francis Moss and Ted Perdersen


Jaws


(Before we proceed, a book-keeping issue needs to be mentioned, regarding the airdates: I am basing  these on the listings I found here at TV.com.  I have no earthly idea if they are accurate or not, but since TV.com is using them, I'm going to use them, too.)
 

An Aston Martin DB5 is racing through the countryside, attempting to evade pursuit by another car.  It sprouts and wings and flies away, much to the chagrin of a purple-suited man who gets out of the pursuing car and says "Drat it all!" or some such nonsense.
  
In the Aston Martin: James Bond Jr., who is late for his first day at Warfield Academy, an exclusive prep school for the children of important governmental people.  Which is why Bond's classmates include Horace "IQ" Boothroyd (the grandson of Q himself) and surfer dude Gordon "Gordo" Leiter (the son of Felix Leiter).  Bond also meets Tacy Millbanks, the daughter of Warfield's headmaster.
  
Bond sneaks off the grounds of the school with IQ and Tracy (he's been grounded for being late to school) to pick up a package sent to him by his uncle, but -- oh ho! -- there never was any package!  This has been a ruse enacted by the purple-suited villain.  His henchman, Jaws, shows up and steals the Aston Martin to take it back to S.C.U.M. headquarters.  Evidently, there is some sort of gadget inside which will allow the bad guy -- whom Jaws refers to as Scumlord -- to cripple all computers within a 50-mile radius.
  
James sneaks onboard the airplane and disrupts Scumlord's plans by causing the plane to crash . . . but not before he and Tracy parachute to safety.  Jaws just jumps out of the plane into a building, and seems fine.  He's got a history of that, you know.  Presumably, Scumlord and his white dog Scuzzball also lived to vilify another day.
  
Back at Warfield, James receives a gift from his uncle: a new car!  Not an Aston Martin this time, but a snazzy red sports car.
  

Episode 2: "Earth Cracker"

airdate:  September 17, 1991
written by:  Mel Gilden

Apparently, James has a classmate at Warfield named Lotta Dinaro.  Lotta's father is a scientist of some sort, and he's been kidnapped by Goldfinger because he knows where El Dorado is.  Fabled city of gold El Dorado.  So, like, Goldfinger can't resist it.  (Goldfinger apparently CAN resist death, which is normally the result of being sucked out of an airplane and falling thousands of feet to the earth below, which is what happened at the end of the movie which bears his name.  Either that, or this television series is not following the established canon of the Bond cinematic universe.)

Lotta is kidnapped by Oddjob, who attacks her (and James, and some of the other Warfield students) in a tank.  Oddjob looks like this now:


Oddjob


About which, I have the following thoughts:

  • Check out the tits on Oddjob!
  • Oddjob is apparently now a member of Run-D.M.C.  (This observation = low-hanging fruit.  Yes.  I know.  But low-hanging fruit deserves to be picked, too.)
  • WTF
  • Just as Goldfinger is immune to gravity-related fatalities, Oddjob must be impervious to electrocution.  And, suddenly, to good fashion sense.
  • I am currently amusing myself by pretending this is not Oddjob at all, but instead is Walter "Heisenberg" White, who has invented a time machine, gone back to the late 1980s, gotten a job as an enforcer working for Auric Goldfinger, and promptly let himself go.  Perhaps his science works only if he is able to anchor himself in the past by means of consuming vast quantities of Ho-Hos.

Anyways, James follows Oddjob and discovers that he is heading for Puerto, Peru.  So he and IQ and Tracy all go to Peru, where they discover Lotta and her father being held by Goldfinger.  Goldfinger has a massive sonic cannon called an Earth Shaker, which he is going to use to vibrate a mountain apart to reveal El Dorado.  Just as soon as Dinaro tells him which one of the two mountains it is.  So he does, and goddam if Goldfinger wasn't right!  The mountain crumbles, revealing motherfucking El Dorado!

So Goldfinger immediately begins melting all the gold down into plate form.  IQ explodes a grenade, causing an avalanche, which allows James to get free -- did I mention he'd been captured? -- and then man the Earth Shaker, which he uses to crumble the city on top of Goldfinger and Oddjob.  Who I'm sure are totally dead now, and unlikely to ever show up in future episodes.
  

Episode 3: "The Chameleon"

airdate:  September 18, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott




The Warfield gang is taking a trip to Washington, D.C., which is a bummer for Tracy, because her passport has evidently expired.  This is odd, because she sounds patently American, so I don't know why we wouldn't just let her back in.  Weird.  Maybe she's actually Canadian.

Anyways, everyone else gets to go, even the obnoxious Trevor Noseworthy, who's always fucking things up or making an ass of himself.  But IQ gave him longjohns that have a parachute sewn into them, which comes in handy when James finds himself dangling off the side of the Washington Monument.

This happens because they meet an Army Lieutenant named (sigh...) Shelly Casing.  Get it?  Shelly Cas(e)ing?!?  GET IT?!?!?  Anyways, Lieutenant Casing is assigned to a project called R.A.T.S., which stands for Robotic Armored Tactical Solider.  Think ED209, but with a human operator.  A dude named The Chameleon is trying to steal it, so he's trying to kill Shelly.  I can't remember why; I got distracted because one of my cats took an especially smelly dump while I was watching this episode, and it sorta made me stop paying attention for a few grim seconds.

The pertinent info, though, is that The Chameleon has a device which allows him to facially impersonate other people, so he goes through this long and complicated series of events so as to be able to impersonate the general in charge of the R.A.T.S. program.  Luckily, James is there to stop him.

I would like to tell you more about this episode, but I'm not going to, because life is short and I feel sure I can find something better to do.  Such as go sifting for cat pickles in the next room.  I have a suspicion there is a need for such activity.  See y'all in one episode.


Episode 4: "Shifting Sands"

airdate:  September 19, 1991
written by:  Doug Molitor


This is a relatively minor character from the episode, but his look of intense skepticism -- delivered, understandably, to James while he is explaining a bit of the plot -- delights me.


The Warfield kids are on yet another field trip, this time in Egypt.  Who the fuck is paying for all this?  I hope not taxpayers, because that'd be bullshit.  We open in medias res, with an elderly professor -- Professor Giza (get it?) -- opening a tomb.  Something confusing happens, and I didn't pay much attention to it, but James somehow knows to attribute it to a bad guy named Pharaoh Fearo.

The puns keep on coming in this episode, too: Bond meets up with an Egyptian student named Cleo Daweh.  Which is funny, because it sounds like a guy from Brooklyn saying "clear the way."  Gordo Leiter gets the joke, and actually gets out of her way at one point, which I found to be kind of charming.

Anyways, it turns out there is a plot to steal an ancient mummy, the corpse of Pharaoh Hiphurah (wow), who is the distant ancestor of Fearo.  Fearo is also doing some sort of dastardly deeds with a subterranean drilling craft.  It's like a submarine that moves through the ground at high speeds by tunneling with an enormous diamond mounted to the front of the craft.  This is beyond stupid; anyone who could afford a diamond that big could probably just buy the entire world.

Also stupid: IQ's inventions, which in this episode include an acid that is so strong it'd make Giger's alien jealous, as well as a sonic shovel that can essentially create an earthquake.  A sonic shovel!  IQ is a fucking asshole.

Anyways, Bond and Cleo get captured, escape from the sub, and then enlist the help of the superwealthy bedouins (one of whom is pictured above) to bring Fearo's reign of terror to an end.  Then, later, Cleo basically says she can't fuck him because their cultures are too different.  Not even making that up.  Oh, sure, the wording is delicate; but that's what she means, I'm telling you.

Seriously, y'all; this is a deeply weird show.


Episode 5: "Plunder Down Under"

airdate:  September 20, 1991
written by:  Perry Martin


Captain Walker D. Plank


The Warfield kids are on yet another field trip, this time to Greece.  They stumble into a plot involving abducted oil tankers, which are being snatched out of the ocean by a sea monster.  Turns out, it's not a sea monster at all, but a giant claw that is being operated on behalf of the villainous pirate, Captain Walker D. Plank.

I shit you not.  Walker D. Plank.  And he's got a ginger mohawk and a talking parrot and an eyepatch and the parrot has an eyepatch and Jaws works for him (i.e., for the Captain, not for the parrot -- that'd be dumb if Jaws worked for the parrot) and he even says "arrrrrr...!!!" a few times.

James and company get captured, which is convenient, because it allows them to bust up Plank's plot.  The details of that plot, you'll be surprised to learn, have escaped me in the mere moments that have followed since I watched the episode.

In disturbing news, I am theeeeeees close to having now memorized the lyrics to the show's abysmal theme song.  It may even be worse than "Die Another Day" and "Another Way to Die"!

The subplot of this episode involves Gordo being distracted by trying to beat a handheld videogame.  While he's a captive, even.

Sixty episodes left.  Already, this seems like one of those things where I'm going to be on my deathbed and thinking about my life as its last few drops fall out of the line, and I'm going to think about the fact that I spent roughly 22.75 hours of said life watching the entire series of James Bond Jr episodes, and I'm gonna be all like, Well done, jackass; THERE went a well-spent day...

So really, between the two of us, who's the bigger idiot: Gordo Leiter or me?  It's a question worthy of Obi-Wan Kenobi.


Episode 6: "A Chilling Affair"

airdate:  September 23, 1991
written by:  Mark Jones



Dr. No


That, ladies and gents, is Dr. No, who, when last we saw him, was slipping helplessly into a pool of radioactive water.  So, like, I guess maybe we're supposed to assume he survived that encounter, emerged as a green-skinned mutant, and now has enormous permanent boogers hanging from his nose.

What's that you say?  It's supposed to be a mustache?  Oh.  Well, okay; if you say so.

In this episode, Bond and friends are walking around town -- not, for once, on a field trip -- killing time when they hear a commotion from a nearby science lab.  A cryogenics specialist -- Dr. Frost -- is being kidnapped by S.C.U.M. agents.  Bond tries to intervene, but is unsuccessful.  Later, he and his friends track the enemy agents to a sushi bar, and then further to Dr. No's lair.

Dr. No's plot: he has kidnapped Dr. Frost to help him revive a gangster who had himself frozen a hundred years previously -- which surely places this series sometime in the 2060s or so -- so as to evade the authorities.  Somehow, Dr. No has gotten his inert body, and wants him unthawed so he can find the gangster's millions of stolen dollars.

Here is said gangster:




To be precise, that's actually IQ impersonating the gangster.  Either way, he looks distractingly like my friend Trey Sterling, and it's kind of weirding me out.

This entire series is weirding me out.  It's horrible, but I am beginning to have stray moments during which I find myself almost enjoying its daffiness.  I assume this is some bizarre television-viewing equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome, which probably means bad times ahead for yrs trly.


Episode 7: "Nothing to Play With"

airdate:  September 24, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott



A particularly shoddy screencap.  This episode, as I found it on YouTube, was in particularly poor shape.  The majority of the episodes there seem to have been uploaded by one person, who obviously recorded them onto VHS and had been holding onto them for years and years and years.  Some of them -- this one included -- are absolutely riddled with tracking problems.  But hey, I suppose it's better than nothing; if not for that mysterious uploader, this post could not exist, so to him/her, You Only Blog Twice doffs its hat in salutory fashion.


Bond and Tracy are at a carnival, and find a note inside a stuffed animal, or something.  (I wasn't paying very close attention.)  This leads them to Hong Kong, where a prominent toymaker has been kidnapped by Captain Walker D. Plank and a new villain named Babyface.  (I think; I don't remember his name actually being spoken, but I know there is a JBJ villain by that name, and this fellow fits the bill visually.)

Plank and Babyface are creating toys that are going to take over the world, or something.  (Again, not so much with the rapt attention this ep.)  Eventually, Bond and friends get captured, and eventually they escape, yada yada yada.  Amazingly, Trevor has followed them all the way to Hong Kong just to prove they are off school grounds -- ! -- and even more amazingly, he climactically stumbles across a group of small toy robots which, I shit you not, combine to form a giant robot that then goes on a rampage through Hong Kong.  Bond puts an end to these shenanigans by employing a faulty gadget IQ has been working on.

This is, obviously, not a good half hour of television.  However, it is SO cartoony that it actually feels a bit like something wholly separate from the James Bond mythos; so in that sense, it is arguably at least somewhat its own animal.

Still, this crap is pretty durn crappy.


Episode 8: "Location: Danger"

airdate:  September 25, 1991
written by:  Misty Taggart


Felony O'Toole


We open with IQ and Tracy tied up in a jungle, about to be cooked by cannibals.  James shows up to rescue them, claiming to have been in the area because his uncle was speaking at a python-conservation symposium.  Uh, no.  No, he wasn't.  James Bond has better things to do.

But it was only a dream!  James Jr. wakes up from a nap he'd been taking while a movie was being screened at Warfield: the last Spyman movie from Megabucks Studios.  James scoffs at the movie, saying it is nothing like what real spies go through.  This offends a cute redheaded Warfield student we -- and James -- have never seen before.  Her name is (sigh) Anne Genue, and her father is the star of the Spyman movies.

Anne's 16th birthday party is a bust, because her father doesn't show up.  So James -- who is trying to get in them drawers -- decides to sneak her and all the regular cast cast of character off campus and use Phoebe's frequent-flyer points to fly them all to Hollywood so that Anne can see her dad.

Unfortunately, this coincides with a S.C.U.M. plot to steal a device of some sort.  I think they already stole it.  I think it's a computer.  They need Professor Braintrust, the world's leading computer programmer, to do something to it, but he's evidently just won a trip to the set of the new Spyman movie, so that's where he'll be.  Scumlord and a new hench(wo)man, Felony O'Toole, cook up a scheme: they'll get another henchman to kidnap and impersonate Anne's father, and then when Professor Braintrust shows up, they'll kidnap HIM, too!  This idea maybe needed a bit more workshopping.

James and friends try to put a stop to the kidnapping, but O'Toole and the fake Spyman make off with Anne and the Professor (who thinks it's all part of the movie, causing O'Toole to vocally express her disbelief in his status as a genius) and then lead Bond and company onto the set of Lizartron, where a gigantic robotic fire-breathing lizard tries to kill them.  What was the budget of that movie, I wonder?

I can't remember how it ended.  They meet up with Anne's father at some point, and foil the S.C.U.M. plot.  The professor gets a role in the next Spyman film.  Anne stays in America with her dad.

Oh!  Oh!  I forgot to mention the dumbest part!  IQ has invented a camcorder -- called the Continuum Camera, or something -- that uses infrared to take images of what happened in the past!  All you have to do is set the time, point, and record.  Is Warfield actually Hogwarts?!?

I have to confess that I actually sort of enjoyed this episode.  It's SO weird and insane that I marveled at it, to some extent.


Episode 9: "The Eiffel Missile"

airdate:  September 26, 1991
written by:  Doug Molitor
 

Alright, look . . . I can accept a certain amount of stupidity and illogic, especially in a kiddie cartoon.  But here is the daffiness "The Eiffel Missile" is trying to push upon me: there has been a worldwide alert issued warning people that a stolen nuclear missile may be in Paris, possibly to be used against the city itself.  This seems to be more or less public knowledge, so much so that Warfield's headmaster tells James Bond Jr about it (as an explanation for why the school field trip to Paris has been canceled).  So, of course, James and his trusty underlings sneak off campus and proceed (via hovercraft, because naturally) to Paris anyways, where they foil the plot and save the free world.

Now, bear in mind that this series exists in a universe in which the REAL James Bond -- 007 himself -- is, ostensibly, still an active agent.  A villain actually mentions "007" during the course of this episode.  Even if he's retired, MI6 is still in existence, as is the CIA, Deuxième Bureau, etc.  So, like, can you imagine a scenario in which what's really needed to avert worldwide nuclear catastrophe is the intervention of a quintet of dicks from a private school for teenagers?

Furthermore, once said quintet of dicks arrives in Paris, the city doesn't seem to be on high alert or anything.  It seems totally normal.

Now, I know that expecting anything resembling rationality from a series like James Bond Jr is probably a fool's expectation.  This is not lost on me.  But sometimes, a bridge will take you too far, and this is one of those times.

Two new villains are introduced this time around: Skullcap (who wear some sort of metal, uh, skullcap) and Dr. Derange.  The latter is a Frenchman who speaks in so outrageous a Franch accent that you expect to see him atop a castle wall, haranguing King Arthur about the Holy Grail.  He does not at any point fart in James's general direction, but he may as well.

I could not bear the thought of screencapping him, mainly because there is no way to screencap an accent.  However, here is a trio of images of Skullcap, in the midst of an amusing reaction.  Oh, to have been able to screencap his startled "HUH?!?"






Final note about this episode: the nuclear missile is launched from beneath the Eiffel Tower, and emerges inside the base.  It is launched, but somehow does not destroy the Tower; instead, it seemingly just passes through the top of the Tower.  Which is dumb as hell.

Another final note: the studio must have figured this episode was one of the jewels in the show's crown, because it was the second of six novelizations published for the young-adult paperback market.  Written by John Vincent and published by Puffin in 1992, the book runs 118 pages, and one suspects that it fleshes out the concepts presented in the episode.  Do I own a copy?  Yes.  Have I read the book?  No.  Will I read it at some point?  Yes, but no time soon; it will be part of a James Bond Jr books/comics post at some point in the indeterminate future, once the focus of this blog shifts away from the movies and toward the books, comics, and other such works.

Final final note: James meets up with a hot French chick named Marci Beaucoup in this episode.  When she introduced herself I laughed out loud, then clapped a hand over my mouth and looked around shame-faced, as though someone might have seen me.  It was the correct series of reactions, I feel.


Episode 10: "A Worm in the Apple"

airdate:  September 27, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott

One of the characters we haven't mentioned much so far is Phoebe Farragut:




Phoebe's pathetic role on this series is to serve as a sort of Moneypenny figure, by which I mean she has the unrequited hots for James.  I mean, seriously, this girl has got it bad.  In "A Worm in the Apple," she invites James to go to New York City with her -- and ONLY her -- to be present for the opening of a new mile-high skyscraper her father has some involvement with.  James agrees, but only out of sympathy.  Trevor ends up tagging along somehow, and that's bad enough, but then, as soon as they get in town, James starts palling around with a leggy blonde girl who is, like, a representative of the architect or some such nonsense.

Poor Phoebe.  It's another night of weeping and secretive masturbation for you, young lady.

Seriously, though; James is a massive prick in this episode, from start to finish.

There is a running subplot involving IQ's latest gadget, a pair of two-way sunglasses that can either show images to the wearer or broadcast them from one wearer to the wearer of a second pair.  Tracy takes the secondary pair away from IQ so she can spy on James and see what he's up to in NYC.  Perhaps she is afraid James might toss a sympathy fuck at Phoebe.  In any case, the episode ends with everyone back at Warfield, and Tracy vowing to keep using the shades to keep a tab on James's activities.  So James gives his pair to Coach Mitchell . . . who immediately disappears into the men's locker room.  Cue shouts of dismay from Tracy.

I forgot to mention that there was a plot by a new villain: The Worm, who lives underground and plans to topple the new skyscraper from beneath.  He sucks.  But overall, this was one of the better episodes so far.  It's ridiculous, but it seems to have a sense of its own ridiculousness, which is at least a virtue of some sort.

As I type this, it is January 12, 2014.  About two nights ago, I began reading The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson.  I'm about a hundred pages in, and I'm enjoying it immensely so far.  Reading that biography while in the midst of a James Bond Jr watch-through is a bit disconcerting, however; I cannot help but wonder what Fleming would have thought about his best-known character being twisted into such a shape.



Episode 11: "Valley of the Hungry Dunes"

airdate:  September 30, 1991
written by:  Steven J. Fisher


Nick Nack

James, IQ, Tracy, Gordo, and Phoebe are at an amusement park.  James notices that there is a suspicious-looking dude crawling around on the superstructure for one of the roller coasters, and correctly intuits that shenanigans are afoot.  So, naturally, he steals a security guard's scooter and somehow gets it onto the track.  Soon, he catches up with the sole occupant of the car and saves her life.  She turns out to be Yasmine, the daughter of Shiekh Yabuti (sigh...), a wealthy man from the Middle Eastern country of Al Kaline.

Boy, the puns on this show never stop, do they?

The Shiekh invites the students to visit his country, which of course, they do.  Once there, James uncovers a S.C.U.M. plot to steal water or something like that; apparently, Quantum was paying attention, since Dominic Greene later pulls a similar plot.  Behind it all: Dr. No, who is being assisted by henchmen Jaws and (making his first appearance) Nick Nack.  Nick Nack sounds a bit like he sounded in The Man with the Golden Gun, but, bizarrely, looks a bit like a miniaturized Meat Loaf Aday.

Anyways, James successfully foils the plot.

One more episode down.  A mere 54 remain.

Kill me.


Episode 12: "Pompeii and Circumstance"

airdate:  October 1, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott


The Worm


Trevor invites everyone to go hang out with him on vacation at his family's Italian Riviera villa.  This leads to another confrontation with super-duper lame bad guy The Worm, who is now drilling tunnels beneath the Italian landscape in an attempt to find the lost treasures of Pompeii.

You know, it's weird.  Every single time James Bond Jr. goes anywhere, there's villainy afoot.  In this universe, the world must be in absolute chaos, because if there's that much crime going on, imagine all the dastardly deeds James, IQ, and company must be failing to stop!

Or maybe that what the other James Bond is doing all the time.  God, I hope he never has a cameo in this show; it's beneath him.,



Episode 13: "Never Give a Villain a Fair Shake"

airdate:  October 2, 1991
written by:  Francis Moss


An especially low-quality screencap, this time of James Bond Jr. himself.


Captain Walker D. Plank shows up again, and evidently I've been spelling his name incorrectly all this time, because people keep calling him "Captain DePlank" in this episode.  Okay, fine; Captain Walker DePlank it is.

The plot this time out involves Phoebe's father sponsoring a sea-voyage field trip to test a seismic generator designed to stop earthquakes.  Predictably, S.C.U.M. wants to steal the device.  I think it's so they can create earthquakes, but to be honest, I napped my way through much of this episode.  Am I going to go back and rewatch it?  I am not.

Also: I object to the title of this episode.  I mean, seriously?!?  Never give a villain a fair shake?  That sounds suspiciously like "guilty until proven innocent" to me, which in turns sounds like fascism.  Don't you suppose that it's attitudes like that cause a great many villains to turn to villainy?  In such a brutal and repressive society, what options are we giving them?


Episode 14: "City of Gold"

airdate:  October 3, 1991
written by:  Mark Jones

Well, I'll say this: prior to watching this episode, I had never encountered a story in which a villain's plot is, um, foiled by means of blinding them by using the wrapper off a burrito.  So I guess I can check that off the list now.

This episode involves a lost city made entirely of gold, which is somewhere in the Caribbean.  Gold figures into the plot, and the world "gold" is right there in the title, so this is bound to mean that Goldfinger is back for another episode, right?

Wrong!

Instead, we get a new villain, a lady named Goldiefinger.  Along with her is her alarmingly butch henchwoman, Barbella.


Goldiefinger and Barbella

Barbella has a deep voice and gets annoyed if you confuse her for a man.  She also appears to not wear lipstick.  Look, I'm just sayin'.

James Bond Jr is on a field trip to the Caribbean, so he's able to defeat these two, along with some help from his friends Gordo, Phoebe, and this week's Bond Jr. girl, Ivy Digger.  I don't remember the specifics, but, like I said, a burrito plays a prominent role.


Episode 15: "Never Lose Hope"

airdate:  October 4, 1991
written by:  Benjamin Pollack

I appreciate the inspirational message of this episode's title, and I feel certain I will need to be reminded of them continually as my watch-through of this series continues.

This episode wasn't too awful, though, as episodes of James Bond Jr go.  In the cold open, James and Gordo are out shopping, when suddenly they are attacked by a clown.   They get away and say a lot of puns, and that's that.  Back at Warfield, a new teacher is introduced: Hope Eternal (!!!), who is super-duper hot.  Her father may or may not have worked for S.C.U.M. at one point, which makes her hiring seem like rather a bad idea.

Sure enough, she is soon kidnapped, and James, IQ, and Gordo go try to rescue her.  But guess what?  As Admiral Ackbar could have told them, it was a trap!  This is a scheme designed to get back at 007 by killing his nephew.  See, 007 had evidently destroyed her father's lab -- and her father with it -- without bothering to find out if Professor Eternal was being duped by S.C.U.M.  He was, of course, so his daughter has a major axe to grind with 007 now.

Anyways, James uses his rocket-boots (it's a long story) to escape, and then captures Hope and her henchman.  Later, Hope is reunited with her father; he isn't dead at all, but living in witness protection!  She realizes James will never forgive her, but she's pretty hot, so you never know.

Was this the first episode to not feature a plot by S.C.U.M.?  It might have been.


Episode 16: "No Such Loch"

airdate:  October 7, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott

As you might expect given the use of the word "loch" in the title, this episode is Scotland-centric.  So, of course, there is golf and a S.C.U.M. plot featuring the Loch Ness Monster.




I have a great many questions about this episode, starting with this: if you were Jaws' employer, wouldn't you insist that he come to work wearing pants that extended past the tops of his socks?  Yes, so would I.

His employer this episode is Captain Walker D. Plank, which brings us to my second question.  Now, the last time Captain Plank was in an episode ("Never Give a Villain a Fair Shake"), everyone was saying his name as "Captain DePlank."  This time, everyone is saying simply "Captain Plank."  So, god damn it, is it Captain Walker D. Plank or is it Captain Walker DePlank?!?  You might think these things are meaningless, but it is precisely this sort of shit that will drive a blogger insane.

Question the third: were there, in fact, two different voice actors performing the role of Trevor Noseworthy over the course of this series?  In some episodes, his voice is smarmy and high-pitched, whereas in others it is smarmy and less high-pitched.  Sounds like two different actors to me, but nobody else on the cast seems different from one episode to the next.  I'm sure there is a story of some sort here.

Our final question is this: was a different animation firm used on this episode?  The animation seemed ever so slightly more fluid.  The designs were all the same same, but the movement struck me as being a bit more advanced than in previous episodes.

Anyways, the plot is about S.C.U.M. using a vessel disguised as the Loch Ness Monster to steal a missile that they are going to use to shoot down the satellite the British government uses to track their movements.  Meanwhile, Warfield is competing in a inter-school golf tournament, and Trevor is cheating using IQ-designed golf balls that go wherever you are looking, provided you wear a special pair of sunglasses.

Yep.


Episode 17: "Appointment in Macau"

airdate:  October 8, 1991
written by:  Mary Crawford and Alan Templeton

While on a train ride to Warfield, James foils a villainous plot to kidnap a young girl named Lily Mai, who is also bound for Warfield.  Later, another kidnap attempt occurs, and James is unable to stop it.




Naturally, we find out that Dr. No is behind all of this.  Lily's father is a member of the Triad, and Dr. No wants to blackmail them . . . and also get them to apologize for kicking him out.  (Was this in Dr. No?)  But it turns out that her father is actually working for INTERPOL, and instead of killing James, he sets him free, and they team up to save the day.

It's pretty silly, but I have to confess to laughing during one scene early on.  Lily is taking part in a karate -- judo? -- class class, and is matched against Trevor.  Trevor says "I'd like to see her flip me," or something like that.  Cut to Gordo.  "Yeah," he says enthusiastically, "I'd like to see that, too!"  Phoebe says, "We'd all like to see that...!"

Not exactly '70s Woody Allen dialogue, there, but any port in a storm.


Episode 18: "Lamp of Darkness"

airdate:  October 9, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott and Mark Jones


Cortex

Portly ginger thieves break into Trevor's house and steal a Persian rug, which, as it turns out, it one quadrangle of a set that, I shit you not, forms a treasure map leading to the legendary lamp of Aladdin.  This was about a year prior to the release of Disney's animated classic based on the Aladdin tale, so I assume Disney stole the entire idea from this episode.  Yeah; yeah, that makes sense.

Anyways, James, IQ, and Phoebe -- who evidently knows how to fly a plane! -- agree to help try and recover Trevor's rug.  This whole thing is the villainous plot of a guy named Cortex; the portly ginger thieves are his henchmen, the dim-witted Left Brain and Right Brain.  Get it?

In a rather Indiana Jones-like series of temple escapades, James tries -- and fails -- to beat Cortex to the lamp.  Cortex recovers it, opens it, and fins a crystal inside that allows the user to materialize whatever he thinks about into existence.  One of his henchmen wants a popsicle, but he refuses.  He's a dick.  Eventually, the crystal breaks into two parts, and Cortex and James have a weird battle of the wills in which one conjures a giant snake, the other a giant monkey to fight it, and so forth.  James wins by wishing that Cortex's crystal would stop working.

As the episode ends, Gordo uses the crystal to wrap Trevor up in his recovered rug, keeping him from talking.

Great.  Gordo Leiter with a magical device of seemingly limitless ability.  We are all fucked.

What a bizarre episode this is.  It devolves into outright fantasy, which is something that hasn't exactly happened before.  It is, arguably, still better than Never Say Never Again.



Episode 19: "Hostile Takeover"

airdate:  October 10, 1991
written by:  Sue Shakespeare and David Holmes

It's been a bit of an odd night here at the You Only Blog Twice headquarters.  The agenda has consisted of eating some enchiladas (accomplished early, quickly, and with satisfaction), followed by a triple-feature of television-program viewing: the new episode of Girls, followed by one episode of James Bond Jr, followed by the second episode of True Detective.  We are currently between the second and third legs of this mini-marathon, and to be honest, all I really want to do is write about Girls.  Man, I love that show.  Lena Dunham is okay by me; I think she's beautiful, I know she's talented, and while Hannah is probably the sort of person I'd want to avoid like the clap in real life, on screen she is fascinating.  So is Adam, and Shoshanna, and Marnie.  I hate Jessa, though; she's just a complete c.

Oh, right.  James Bond Jr.


Mask

In this episode, Warfield is taken over by a new bad guy named Mask, who uses a hologram belt to pose as the school's new headmaster.  He somehow manages to get all the original teachers and staff recalled for new training, and then brings in his own staff of thugs and hooligans, all of whom have the same holographic capabilities he has.

James and friends discover what's going on: this is all a plot to kidnap the soon-to-visit Admiral Billings, who is the head of the Secret Service.  Once he's been kidnapped, they can impersonate him, take his place, and thereby set up a scenario in which S.C.U.M. is in charge of the British spy network.

Needless to say, the scheme does not work.  How is it foiled?  Well, all I'll say is that it involves James getting ahold of one of the hologram belts.  And also that it involves IQ having invented a gun that shoots bubblegum at people.

Speaking of guns, this seems like an opportune time to mention that one of the conceits of this series is that -- so far, at least -- every time a bad guy shoots a gun at someone, it is a gun that fires lasers instead of bullets.  This is the sort of thing that might explain my inclination to talk less about James Bond Jr and more about how crazily charismatic Adam Driver is on Girls.  Say, didja hear he might have a role in the new Star Wars movies?  I'm for it.


Episode 20: "Cruise to Oblivion"

airdate:  October 11, 1991
written by:  Jeffrey Scott




When last we saw him, Nick Nack had a mean case of five-o'clock-shadow.  Now, he's got a full beard.

Continuity?!?  In James Bond Jr?!?

Sadly, that's about the only thing of interest in this episode, which involves James and friends going on a cruise on Phoebe's father's ship, just in time to encounter a villainous plot by Goldfinger, Oddjob, and Nick Nack.  There is also a hospitality hostess named Debbie who turns out to be a CIA agent, because of course there is.

*****

And that brings us to the end of the first part of the episode guide.  Be back with Part Two as soon as I can slog my way through episode 21-40.

6 comments:

  1. I can only imagine Uncle James' presentation at the Python Conservation conference consisted only of a slideshow from his trip to South America for "Moonraker."

    I'm charmed by the idea of this taking place in some alternate-future with Reed-Richards-like gadgets and where Bond villains killed off in the film have been resurrected (and apparently, in the case of Dr. No, horribly mutated.)

    These were very entertaining write-ups. You're taking a commendable hit for the team, here.

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    1. I had that same thought about "Moonraker." There are occasional moments like that where it almost feels as if the show is winking toward the movies.

      It's a deeply weird show. But it's no worse than most other kiddie toons, I imagine.

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  2. In the U.K. we had a James Bond Junior toy range, including the car and strangely a motorcycle/submarine combo......

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    1. I wouldn't mind having a few action figures from the show. Jaws would be kinda cool.

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  3. http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&id=201103561943&alt=web

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    1. Oh, the temptation...

      If you click on that and see that it's been sold, don't be too surprised!

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